Speed up your PC (Part 3)

The previous articles in this series specifically considered the disk drive with part 1 concerned with decluttering the drive, and part 2 optimising the performance of the drive. It is important now that since these actions are complete and the hard drive is in good operational condition, it should be kept that way, do this by performing the tasks set out previously on a regular basis.

The topic in this article is concerned with how to relieve the pressure on the microprocessor by running fewer tasks. If the PC slows down while working, it is likely that there are too many programs running at once, check to see how many programs are running at once. Typically programs can be started by the user, the system, or other programs.

· User initiated, these are typically application packages or utility started.

· System initiated, programs which often run in the background to perform specific task, these are often started as part of the startup sequence of the PC.

· Programs started by other programs, these can often be perfectly legitimate, but can also be problematic in that the ser has no control over the startup, or the programs may be started, or indeed be, malicious programs, such as a virus.

Run Fewer Programs at the Same Time

All programs take up system memory, which can have a huge impact on performance. In some cases, having multiple instances of a program (such as several open email messages) or multiple versions of a program type (more than one antivirus program) can use up memory. Respond to and close your messages right away and keep open only the programs that are necessary for the work being done on the computer, this will give a boost to the system performance.

To view just how many programs are running at once use the system task manager. To start the Task Manager;

Right click on the taskbar and select Start Task Manager from the popup menu


Press Ctrl-Alt-Delete and select Start Task Manager from the menu

There are 3 relevant tabs in the start manager that indicate what programs are currently running;

· Applications – these are generally started by the user

· Processes – identify the parts of programs running, also programs running with multiple instances

· Services – system specific tasks


Exiting Programs

Wherever possible, programs should be closed down normally using the Exit or Quit command from within the program. Occasionally however the system will appear to freeze or hang up, this can be due to a non responsive program, in this case it is not possible to exit the program normally. When this happens it is important to identify the troublesome program, it is likely that this will be an application started by the user, once again use the Task Manager at the Applications tab. In the list of applications there will be an application that also displays “(Not Responding)” after the application name. To close this application, click on the application name then on the End Task button. This should always be the last resort.

Limit the Programs That Run At Start-up

There are a lot of programs that start automatically each time the computer starts up. The impact of these is that:

1. Like have many programs running at once these can contribute to degradation of the system performance.

2. The time taken to start the computer becomes longer with each program that starts when the computer starts-up.

Often when programs are installed, they are often set to run (or run a component) at start-up. This is often unnecessary, and should be managed correctly.

Firstly get a comprehensive view of what’s running:

1. Click the Start button.

2. In the Search box type System Configuration   

3. From the list of results click System Configuration.   

4. To access the list of items that run at startup click on the “Startup” tab   
The programs set to run at startup are indicated with a check mark to the left of the program.

5. Finally clear the check boxes for any non-essential programs to disable them.

Important: Only disable programs you are familiar with. When in doubt, don’t clear the check box

The next article in the series will look into further optimisations for speeding up your PC.

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